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The Winners and Losers of X-treme Berlin 2022 

The second edition of the X-treme Women Art Prize Berlin 2022 ended in December and  the winners are: Julia Frankenberg, Paulette Penje and media artist Linda Werner.  Although X-treme Women Art Prize Berlin took place online the money prizes donated by the Sammlung Schirm are very real and are supposed to support contemporary Berlin  women artists in their further work.

written by Dr. phil. Lily Fürstenow-Khositashvili

Squirteis. Bildhauerische Intervention. Arkaden, 2021. Julia Frankeneberg, Foto: Daniel Chluba

Works by Julia Frankenberg are done in a variety of media: performances, installations,  texts and in all of these her formal language is diverse, politically charged and creative in  its use of artistic means or historical sources: e.g. the arrangement of shapes and  gradation of colours in the installations, the rhythm of formal elements, citations from art  history and mythology. Her installations analyse the issues of female health, desire, gaze,  socio-political emancipatory challenges by involving public at large and by inviting people  to participate in an open discourse. E.g. her audio work: the dialogue between Paracelcius  and Sophia (the mythological symbol of female wisdom) is witty without falling into trivial  and deeply critical of the history of science and of knowledge – traditionally presented from  male perspective. Her works are unconventional, they address the feminist issues without  falling into didactic and banal.

Squirteis. Bildhauerische Intervention. Arkaden, 2021. Julia Frankenberg
Foto: Daniel Chluba

The organisers chose the digital format of exhibiting of  all the contest submissions with the sole purpose of making visible the whole diversity of  contemporary female artistic practice in the post-pandemic times when visiting exhibition  openings and travel is connected with health risks and extra expenses. This said, Berlin  audiences will definitely have the chance to see and participate in the interactive works  and installations of the X-treme Berlin 2022 award-winners live in various art spots across  the city starting with public spaces of the Berlin Volkssolidarität (Folks Solidarity) spaces  situated in the very heart of the city center. The exhibitions will take place within the  public spaces of the two offices of Berlin Volkssolidarität Mitte bureaus as an intervention.  The idea behind is to bridge the gap between the elitist profit-driven gallery businesses  and Berlin state-funded public art institutions where women artists are continually  underrepresented. Secondly, the curators and juries of X-treme Berlin 2022 support the  notion that art is supposed to be displayed for public at large for more involvement and  open discourse and not presented solely for exclusive art crowds. Good old  Volkssolidarität offices that are grassroots community spaces, happen to be, as the  name indicates, contemporary and evolved versions of the once DDR community centers  for local district folks. Exhibitions are being planned in both locations in Brunnenstrasse  and in Torstrasse window project accompanied by a workshops program with free  participation for all. As the Volkssolidarität offices are intended for free gatherings,  language workshops for displaced persons and refugees, with special programs for  women protection against home violence and more, there will be a good deal of public  seeing the works selected by the the curators for these art-in-context shows.

Paulette Penie. I WISH I WAS A DANCER. 2022. Videoperformance. Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken. photo credits Philipp Maier

Paulette Penje ‘s public performances are deeply subversive, revealing the contradictions  running between Berlin aspirations to present itself as the dynamic growing metropole  open for arts and culture innovations as opposed to the profound social, economic and  cultural disasters aggravating the local societies. Her disruptive intrusions into public  spaces challenge the notions of public order and test the limits of the allowed and the  forbidden. They’re addressed to the surrounding public challenging conventional  perceptions of norm, especially in the post-pandemic reality, thematising public behaviour  as opposed to the private – e.g. the act of lying on the floor or on the ground or  spontaneous dancing in public. Her painting performances are experimental in terms of  use and application of colour onto the medial surface, whereas the technique of spitting  and licking off the colour from the surface subverts the traditional male dominated  perspective on painting and puts different accents on the process of creative art-making.

Paulette Penie. I WISH I WAS A DANCER. 2022.
Videoperformance. Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken.
Photo credit
Philipp Maier

Since all artists submissions to X-treme are exhibited online and will remain so as a digital  exhibition for quite a while on the e-merginG artisTS Platform anyone can follow the competition process, see the submitted works and get acquainted  with some of the best entries arranged by the website curator to make visible the rich  palette of the contemporary feminist artistic practice of Berlin women artists.

The digital format of the exhibition, unlike the exclusive and non-transparent artist  selection and exhibition process of the Berlin state-funded public art institutions and  private galleries, is much more democratic and open. In these times of extremes: like  wars, pandemics, economic and political instabilities and profound environmental  challenges X-treme Women Art Prize Berlin acquires a whole new dimension. With both  online and offline exhibition formats the organisers and the competition juries aim to  revise and push to the extremes the possibilities of art as to their utmost potential to bring  system change: e.g. exhibiting more women artists, elimination of gender pay gap in  contemporary art establishments, more women curators and decision-makers in charge  of institutions, elimination of age limits and restrictions - to name but a few.  

Most important: fair pay for fair work and fair career opportunities for all women  irrespective of their nationality, age, race and social background. With the rising  importance of Berlin as the European metropole for contemporary arts as it claims to be, the role of X-treme Women Art Prize Berlin is essential, because it fights for better  representation of Berlin women artists. The organisers go for an expanded notion of arts,  as curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, once put it, welcoming all formats and ways of artistic  expression. Going for art in the times of extremes might seem superficial but one should  never forget the ethical engagement of art with things around us, quoting artist Ligia  Lewis and art's potential to create emotional impact. With this in mind, all those who're  with us in this struggle for more women share in arts are in and those who act otherwise  are so not, unless they revise what they stand for and realise what's at stake.

Linda Werner

Linda Werner’s mirror computer screen installations based on the use of the special  software utilising human data archives for determining of the human psycho-types shows  her experimental and critical approach to new technologies from innovative artistic  perspective. Her installation involves public participation and feedback, questioning our  perception of machines and the influence of the new technologies on our lives. Her face  recognition installations critically engage with algorithms and robots that anonymously  evaluate humans by measuring skills, intellect and abilities judging by physiognomic data:  like the distance between facial features and shapes of the wrinkles. It's common  knowledge that the new technologies AI and robots will determinin to an ever increasing  scale our future by transforming human-machine interface. Linda Werner’s works  thematise this process. In the long run it’s up to each of us to decide if the human-psycho  type of each of those who make the test developed by Linda Werner is true or false. But  once algorithms are used on a larger scale by big companies while hiring or evaluating  personnel or making other life important decisions the dilemma gets deeper raising more  ethical questions at stake.

X-treme Women Art Prize Berlin is curated by Dr. phil. Lily Fürstenow-Khositashvili. It  has been initiated to support women in arts by artist Martina Singer and Lily Fürstenow  winners of the 2021 Bundesprogramm Neustart Kultur/Deutscher Künstlerbund  Scholarship from which they allocated part of their money for the X-treme winners. X treme Women Art Prize Berlin 2022 has been sponsored by Sammlung Schirm.  

For more see X-treme Website 

X-treme Berlin 2022 Jury members were: Dr. Eckhard Fürlus / UdK Berlin, Cathrin Mamoudou /Volkssolidarität Berlin, Alina Nosow , Martina Singer, Pauline Stopp, Paula Carralero Bierzynska

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